Bioenergy, Project Development, Wind Power

Good-Bye John Deere Renewables

Back in the early days of the modern wind industry, farm equipment manufacturers in Denmark played a key role in developing the sturdy large-scale machines installed in the 1980s. Maybe that’s why wind seemed like such a good fit for a company like John Deere, the world’s largest farm machinery manufacturer.

Or maybe it’s better left to the energy companies.

This week, America’s largest nuclear company Exelon acquired all of John Deere’s wind farm assets – a portfolio of 735 MW in eight states – for $860 million. There are also 230 MW of projects in development, which could bring John Deere an additional $40 million when they are completed.

Exelon has been making significant investments in renewables recently. Because of its large nuclear fleet, it claims it is the “least carbon intensive” of any utility in the U.S. But as the market for nuclear has remained stagnant, wind, solar and biomass have been looking more attractive.

John Deere, on the other hand, is moving away from the project financing, development and operation business that had little to do with its core strengths: Building farm machinery. As the market has lagged due to the economy, wind isn’t looking as good at the moment for companies that don’t have a diversified energy portfolio.